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Winning teams impress judges in first year of DOE's Challenge Home Student Design Competition

April 28, 2014 | Golden, CO

Student Design Teams Race for Zero in DOE Competition

Montage Builders Northern Forest, Ryerson University Selected as Grand Winners

In its inaugural year, 28 teams from U.S. and Canadian universities competed in DOE's Challenge Home Student Design Competition to develop cost-effective, zero energy ready homes for mainstream builders. The winning teams produced market-ready, state-of-the-art design solutions for high-performance homes that are energy efficient, comfortable, and durable. The designs are for zero energy ready homes, meaning their high performance features sharply reduce energy use and all or most of the remaining energy use can be offset with renewable energy.

Having submitted their projects for review earlier this spring, the team entries were presented and judged this past weekend by national experts including leading high-performance builders, building science professionals, and researchers. The main criteria for selection were design/construction strategies, clear project plans, required analyses, overall competency applying best practice solutions and principles of building science from DOE’s Building America program. Building America is the research and development arm of DOE’s Residential Buildings Program, focused on developing cost-effective, market-ready zero energy ready solutions, guidance and tools for new construction and existing homes.

“The next generation of housing industry professionals has to be better trained to deliver the home of the future,” according to Sam Rashkin, Chief Architect of DOE's Building Technologies Program and manager of the student design competition. “The DOE Challenge Home Student Design Competition is part of this important transformation process toward creating better homes and communities. The nationwide benefits of cleaner air, large numbers of green jobs that cannot be outsourced, and greater energy security are just a bonus.”

The final judging and awards ceremony took place in Golden, Colo., at the headquarters of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). During the competition weekend, student teams presented their designs to esteemed jurors, networked with notable industry professionals, heard from thought leaders on their vision for the future of housing, and celebrated at an awards dinner where several category winners and two grand winners were announced. Additional teams were also recognized for excellence in specific elements of the competition. As administrator for the competition, Home Innovation Research Labs would like to congratulate all of the 2014 winning teams for an outstanding inaugural showing:

Grand Winners

  • Montage Builders Northern Forest: State University of New York – Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse University, and Onondaga Community College - Best Single-Family Detached Design
  • Ryerson University’s Urban Harvest Team - Best Single-Family Attached Design

Best Design Solution Integration

  • Auburn University College of Architecture, Design & Construction (Team MIDC Orange)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Team gt. 5)
  • Montage Builders Northern Forest: State University of New York – Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse University, and Onondaga Community College
  • Ryerson University’s Urban Harvest Team

Best Technical Integration

  • Penn State University (Team Nittany Lions E-den)
  • Ryerson University’s Urban Harvest Team
  • University of Minnesota (Team Opti-MN)

Best Presentation

  • Auburn University College of Architecture, Design & Construction (Team MIDC Blue)
  • Ryerson University’s Threshold House Team
  • Ryerson University’s Urban Harvest Team
  • University of Minnesota (Team Opti-MN)

Best Production Home Integration

  • Illinois State University
  • University of Minnesota (Team Opti-MN)
  • University of Pittsburgh (Team Panther Innovations)

Special Recognition for Subject Area Excellence

  • Auburn University College of Architecture, Design & Construction (Team MIDC Blue) – Design Goals; Zero Net Energy Use
  • Clemson University – Lighting & Appliances
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Team gt. 5) – Construction Documents
  • Penn State University (Team Nittany Lions E-den) – IAQ Evaluation
  • Pennsylvania College of Technology (PCT Team Blue) – Financial Analysis
  • Ryerson University’s Threshold House Team – Design Goals; Construction Documents
  • University of Kansas (Team KU 609) – Construction Documents
  • University of Minnesota (Team Opti-MN) – Construction Documents
  • University of Pittsburgh (Team Panther Innovations) – Financial Analysis
  • University of Utah School of Architecture (Team Utah Lab House) – Construction Documents

Project profiles for all the winners are available on the competition webpage. Planning for the 2015 competition is already underway and information on how and when to register will soon be available on the website as well. Any students or faculty members who’d like to be informed directly about competition updates can use the “Competition Contact” link.

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ABOUT: Home Innovation Research Labs, located in Upper Marlboro, Md., is a full-service research, testing, and consulting firm determined to improve the quality, durability, affordability, and environmental performance of single- and multifamily homes and home building products – in short, we aim to perfect the home. Founded in 1964 as a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), our team has been integral in solving many of our client’s most difficult product and technology issues, and helping to introduce some of the most groundbreaking innovations in residential construction. Through an interdisciplinary research approach – including market research, building science analysis, laboratory testing, and standards development – we help to find a home for innovation in the residential construction industry.

NOTE TO EDITORS ON STYLE USAGE: To identify this company and its work correctly, first reference should be "Home Innovation Research Labs." In subsequent mentions, "Home Innovation Labs” or simply “Home Innovation” are acceptable and accurate alternative references; we are not identified by an acronym. Prior to February 12, 2013, the company was known as the NAHB Research Center.